2. Cavan Biggio’s Most Recent Full Season at Second Base
The addition of Story or Correa at shortstop would presumably see Bo move to second base, under different circumstances than those that saw Semien accept the move to second from shortstop on his one-year, transitional contract in 2021. But lost in this discussion, for the most part, has been 26-year old Cavan Biggio who, when healthy, still has a high ceiling, has played second base efficiently in the past, and provides a much-needed left-handed bat to balance out the Blue Jays lineup.
Due to several health issues, 2019 was for all intents and purposes Biggio’s most recent full season. Here are Biggio’s rankings among AL second basemen in 2019 (minimum 400 Plate Appearances):
- BB – 1st
- OBP – 2nd
- Plate Discipline (CSW%) – 1st
- xWOBA – 2nd
- Stolen bases – 4th
- OPS – 5th
- wRC+ – 5th
For perspective, Biggio’s .364 OBP in 2019 would have ranked second on the 2021 Blue Jays, behind only Vladdy, and ahead of Bichette, Semien, Springer and Hernandez. Biggio is under contract for $1.5 million in 2022 and is not scheduled to hit free agency until – you guessed it – 2026.
3. Santiago Espinal’s 2021 Numbers at Third Base
Although Santiago Espinal made only 246 plate appearances in 2021, not taking over as the full-time third baseman until later in the year, his batting average of .311 was first on a team loaded with offensive stars. Among AL third basemen in 2021, Espinal’s 2.2 WAR was higher than that of Alex Bregman, Kyle Seager, or Josh Donaldson. George Springer’s WAR for 2021, with 342 plate appearances, was 2.4.
Even more impressive were Espinal’s defensive contributions in 2021. Espinal’s fielding percentage of .980 placed him second among AL third basemen, trailing only Matt Chapman of the A’s (.983). Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF) is a statistic that Fangraphs uses to measure a player’s defensive value relative to league average. For 2021, Espinal’s score of +7.3 ranked third among all AL third basemen and was well ahead of notables such as Kris Bryant (DEF of -6.3) and Rafael Devers (DEF of -3.6).
Espinal earned only $575,000 in 2021 and will not be eligible for free agency until 2027. Obviously, there is no guarantee he will match last year’s productivity going forward, yet the fact that Espinal’s 2021 numbers projected over a full season would have resulted in a WAR ranking in the top ten in the AL is intriguing, to say the least.